In the 1960s and 70s, technology companies took flight from the cities and set up in suburban corporate parks, dreaming up the information systems that would enable further decentralization, prompting Melvin Webber to proclaim the “post-city age” in 1968. Now, global cities threaded by optical fiber and lit up by sensors, hotspots, and RFID tags herald the techno-urban revolution. “Smart cities” are lauded as emancipatory, a new “urban age” in which intelligent systems increase quality of life and alleviate ecological damage. But “smart cities” also imply new spaces of control and ownership, new frontiers in the privatization of urban space, a “virtual enclosures.” The ultimate potential, it appears, is the control of urban practice itself. What, then, will become of the “right to urban life,” as exhorted by Henri Lefebvre?
What are the real-world impacts of real-time intelligent urban systems? To what extent do “smart city” projects constitute new “virtual” and physical enclosures of urban public space in the globalized, capitalist city? And, as we increasingly submit to real-time information gathering and our means of decision-making become more and more intertwined with the networks of urban systems, how is urban “public” experience transformed?
Logo: “urban” with the “u” enclosed like an @.
Check out my short review of Anne Rademacher‘s book Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu published on Anthem EnviroExperts Review. Rademacher is professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU, and brings a very distinct historical and socio-ecological frame to a complex story of ecological restoration, land rights, class conflict, and power relationships that’s not necessarily unique to Nepal. Many thanks to Prof. Lawrence Susskind at MIT, who moderates this series of environmentally-themed reviews.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post on “The Urban Candidate(s)?” asking the questions: Who is the urban candidate? (Both.) And what are they saying about the urban? (Not so much.) I included a map overlaying Election 2008 counties on U.S. Census urbanized areas.
The day after Election Day 2012, I congratulate President Obama on a decisive win. And I update the election counties / urban areas map with a new one for Election 2012. Here it is:
* Apologies to residents of Hawaii (especially Hawaii, because you gave us Obama) and Alaska for leaving you off of this map.
It is the kind of image that puts a lump in your throat. It’s like a Turner landscape painting, but all too real, and made for the post-Millennium techno-and-climate-age. Interestingly, the photographer, Iwan Baan, may not be a household name, but he is very well known in architectural circles for his excellent architectural photography, in which he often eschews the typical tendency for formal, highly-composed, dramatically-lit spaces, usually devoid of people (or, if peopled, usually just as stylized props), for much more ephemeral, of-the-moment, sexy-and-playful, dynamic, and equally, if not more so, dramatic depictions of the lived spaces of design.
Baan has often captured the humanity, the social life, the meaning, of the best designed and non-designed spaces. It is not so surprising that he is the one to capture the human cost of Sandy, even from thousands of feet out. Not necessarily in the photo, but in our collective visceral response to it.